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From street drug to depression therapy

Ketamine offers a new option for people with stubborn depression that doesn’t respond to other medications.

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Many people know of ketamine as a hallucinogenic and addictive street drug, which, when abused, can put people in medical peril. But today, doctors are increasingly looking to ketamine as a potentially lifesaving treatment for people with severe, treatment-resistant depression, who may be at high risk for suicide.

“Ketamine has been shown to be effective in people who have not responded to antidepressant treatment,” says Dr. Cristina Cusin, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. The fast-acting treatment has shown promise — sometimes improving depressive symptoms within hours of the first intravenous treatment.

While ketamine can offer hope to some, it’s not for everyone. The use of ketamine to treat depression is still controversial in some circles. “Some prescribers would never consider the use of a controlled substance for this purpose, because of the potential for abuse,” says Dr. Cusin. “But as with opiates, a drug is not good or bad, per se.” Still, ketamine does need to be carefully matched to the right patient for the right use to avoid harm, and treatment should be closely monitored over time.

A variety of uses

The use of ketamine in medicine isn’t new. It’s routinely used in hospitals both for anesthesia and for pain relief.

Currently, the use of ketamine for depression is “off label.” This means that although ketamine is approved by the FDA for some medical purposes, it’s not approved specifically to treat depression. However, that may soon change. Under its “fast track” drug approval process, the FDA is reviewing the results of clinical trials of esketamine, a ketamine-based nasal spray, to treat depression, says Dr. Cusin.

For now, people who undergo ketamine treatment for depression typically receive the drug at specialized clinics, either intravenously or as a nasal spray. Effects from the nasal spray last for a single day or a few days, while the intravenous treatment may last for a few weeks to a month. In both instances the dose is significantly lower than would be used for anesthesia or when used illicitly.

How ketamine works

Studies have shown that ketamine is effective in treating people whose depression has not responded to other interventions, says Dr. Cusin. Such treatment-resistant depression is estimated to affect from 10% to 30% of people diagnosed with the condition.

Experts believe that ketamine works through a unique mechanism, directly modulating the activity of a brain chemical called glutamate. Glutamate is believed to play a role in stimulating the growth of new brain connections that may help alleviate depressive symptoms.

People who have taken ketamine to treat their depression experience varying success, depending on their personal history—how long they’ve been depressed, how severe their symptoms are, and how many drugs they’ve tried without seeing improvement, says Dr. Cusin.

For people with less severe depression, ketamine may be effective in as many as 60% of those who try it. Among those with more persistent and significant disease, a smaller number, 30% to 40%, may experience relief, says Dr. Cusin. “The expectation should not be that it will magically cure depression in everybody,” she says. “Ketamine is not a perfect fix. It’s like any other medication.” In other words, it works for some people, and it won’t work for others.

To be effective, treatment with ketamine must typically continue indefinitely and involve careful monitoring. Clinicians who prescribe ketamine for depression should screen patients carefully to ensure the drug is appropriate for the individual, says Dr. Cusin. “Not everybody who wishes to try ketamine will be a good candidate,” she says.

Among those who should not use ketamine are people with

  • a history of substance abuse
  • a history of psychosis
  • elevated blood pressure
  • an uncontrolled medical condition.

Who can benefit?

Because ketamine is a newer treatment, there are still a lot of questions surrounding its use, says Dr. Cusin. For instance:

  • Which people respond best to treatment?
  • How much should be given, and how often?
  • What are the long-term effects of treatment?

Because the medication is being used off label for depression, there are no clearly defined safety recommendations either for home use or for its use in specialized clinics, she says. This means that it’s up to individual providers to guide the patient in making informed decisions about treatment. Choosing a qualified provider is essential. JAMA Psychiatrypublished a statement in 2017 outlining best practices for doctors to follow in ketamine treatment, such as performing a comprehensive assessment, obtaining informed consent, and documenting the severity of depression before starting the medication. These guidelines are aimed at increasing the safe use of ketamine for depression, and providers can use them to help ensure that the treatment is a good match for your condition.

As with any other medical intervention, anyone considering ketamine should also consider the drawbacks of treatment along with the potential benefits. Ketamine’s drawbacks include these:

viagra online without prescription Cost. It’s expensive and not covered by insurance. “The cost ranges from $400 to $1,200 per dose for the intravenous drug, and you may need as many as 12 to 18 doses a year,” says Dr. Cusin.

follow Unknowns. Ketamine hasn’t been used to treat depression for long enough for doctors to know whether there are any harmful long-term consequences of taking the medication. More time and study are needed to truly understand how it affects people over the long term.

lasix use in horses Treatment failure. Many people with treatment-resistant depression view ketamine treatment as their last option, so if this therapy fails to improve their depression, they can be emotionally devastated. Realistic expectations and follow-up support are essential.

Even if ketamine does produce results, it’s still important to understand what it can and can’t do. “-Ketamine isn’t going to eliminate all frustrations and stress from your life. While it may lift some symptoms of depression, the life stressors will still be there,” says Dr. Cusin. You’ll still need support to help you manage them.

levitra 20 mg cin vendita Side effects. While ketamine is viewed as safe in a controlled setting, it can frequently increase blood pressure or produce psychotic-like behavior, which may result in delusions or hallucinations. Serious adverse events are rare because the drug is used at such low doses, says Dr. Cusin.

However, provided you are an appropriate candidate for the treatment and your doctor monitors you closely, you could find that it improves your mood. “Ketamine could make a huge difference in the quality and duration of life and can be very effective for people who are thinking about suicide,” says Dr. Cusin.

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https://24-viagra.com/the-use-of-viagra/ Ketamine is emerging as a popular treatment for depression. New research suggests the drug acts like an opioid

 

Ketamine is emerging as a popular treatment for depression. New research suggests the drug acts like an opioid

  • Ketamine is emerging as a way to treat depression, but it appears to act like an opioid, Stanford researchers found.
  • Clinics are cropping up around the country where people receive ketamine infusions.
  • A handful of pharmaceutical companies, including Johnson & Johnson and Allergan, are using ketamine as inspiration for new prescription drugs to treat depression.
This is a vial of the animal tranquilizing drug ketamine hydrochloride, better known in the drug culture as "Special K."
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This is a vial of the animal tranquilizing drug ketamine hydrochloride, better known in the drug culture as “Special K.”

Ketamine is emerging as a way to treat depression, but it appears to act like an opioid — and it may carry similar risks, Stanford researchers found.

Clinics are cropping up around the country where people receive ketamine infusions. A handful of pharmaceutical companies are using ketamine as inspiration for new prescription drugs to treat depression. Yet the new research questions whether scientists know enough about chronic ketamine use to introduce it broadly.

The drug blocks NMDA receptors, which scientists think may treat depressive symptoms. Researchers wanted to test whether it was possible to elicit this reaction without activating the brain’s opioid receptors.

To block an opioid response, they gave participants naltrexone then infused them with ketamine. To compare that response with the normal response, they also gave participants a placebo before giving them the treatment.

Naltrexone so successfully blocked the anti-depressant effects of ketamine that researchers cancelled the study after the first interval because they felt it wasn’t ethical to continue it, said Dr. Nolan Williams, one of the study’s authors and a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University.

When patients took naltrexone, the opioid blocker, their symptoms did not improve, suggesting ketamine must first activate opioid receptors in order to treat depression, according to the study, published Wednesday in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

That’s not to say ketamine cannot be used occasionally, but it does raise questions about using it repeatedly over time, said Dr. Alan F. Schatzberg, co-author of the study and Stanford’s Kenneth T. Norris, Jr., professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. He likens it to opioid painkillers being an appropriate pain treatment when used once in the emergency room but posing problems, such as the risk of dependence, when used chronically.

“More studies need to be done to fully understand ketamine before it’s widely rolled out for long-term chronic use,” Schatzberg said.

Researchers planned on studying 30 adults but stopped enrolling patients once they decided combining ketamine and naltrexone was not only ineffective but also “noxious” for many participants. They tested a total of 12 people with both naltrexone and the placebo.

Of those 12, seven who received naltrexone experienced nausea after the ketamine infusion, compared to three in the placebo group. Two participants in each group also experienced vomiting.

Participants who received the placebo and ketamine treatment reported reduced depression symptoms. But those same participants did not see a decrease in depression symptoms after receiving ketamine and opioid-blocker naltrexone.

“We essentially blocked the mechanism for producing the anti-depressant effect, which were opioids,” said Williams.

The findings may have implications for clinics offering ketamine infusions and drug manufacturers trying to commercialize ketamine-like drugs.

Ketamine is meant to be used as an anesthetic. Since ketamine is currently not indicated to treat depression, insurance typically doesn’t cover the cost of infusions, so people tend to pay out of their own pocket. One session can run more than $500.

Meanwhile, drug giant Johnson & Johnson plans to seek approval from the Food and Drug Administration for its nasal spray esketamine this year after reporting positive results from a Phase 3 trial. Allergan plans to file its drug Rapastinel, which targets the NMDA receptors like ketamine, within the next two years. VistaGen Therapeutics is working on a similar drug.

In a statement, J&J said while the study reviewed ketamine and not esketamine, the findings “are difficult to interpret because of the study’s design.”

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Trippy depression treatment? Hopes and hype for ketamine
703-844-0184 | Ketamine Treatment Center | Fairfax , VA 22306 | Loudon, Va
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Lauren Pestikas sits as she receives an infusion of the drug ketamine during a 45-minute session at an outpatient clinic in Chicago on July 25, 2018. Pestikas struggled with depression and anxiety and made several suicide attempts before starting ketamine treatments earlier in the year. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)

CHICAGO (AP) — It was launched decades ago as an anesthetic for animals and people, became a potent battlefield pain reliever in Vietnam and morphed into the trippy club drug Special K.

Now the chameleon drug ketamine is finding new life as an unapproved treatment for depression and suicidal behavior. Clinics have opened around the United States promising instant relief with their “unique” doses of ketamine in IVs, sprays or pills. And desperate patients are shelling out thousands of dollars for treatment often not covered by health insurance, with scant evidence on long-term benefits and risks.

Chicago preschool teacher Lauren Pestikas long struggled with depression and anxiety and made several suicide attempts before trying ketamine earlier this year.

The price tag so far is about $3,000, but “it’s worth every dime and penny,” said the 36-year-old.

Pestikas said she feels much better for a few weeks after each treatment, but the effects wear off and she scrambles to find a way to pay for another one.

For now, ketamine has not received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating depression, though doctors can use it for that purpose.

Some studies show ketamine can provide relief within hours for tough-to-treat depression and suicidal behavior and clinics promising unproven benefits have popped up nationwide. But more research is needed to know long-term benefits and risks. (Oct. 31)

Ketamine has been around since the 1960s and is widely used as an anesthesia drug during surgery because it doesn’t suppress breathing. Compared to opioids such as morphine, ketamine isn’t as addictive and doesn’t cause breathing problems. And some studies have shown that ketamine can ease symptoms within hours for the toughest cases.

Its potential effects on depression were discovered in animal experiments in the late 1980s and early 1990s showing that glutamate, a brain chemical messenger, might play a role in depression, and that drugs including ketamine that target the glutamate pathway might work as antidepressants.

Conventional antidepressants like Prozac target serotonin, a different chemical messenger, and typically take weeks to months to kick in — a lag that can cause severely depressed patients to sink deeper into despair.

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A vial of ketamine, which is normally stored in a locked cabinet, on display in Chicago on July 25, 2018. AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)

Ketamine’s potential for almost immediate if temporary relief is what makes it so exciting, said Dr. Jennifer Vande Voort, a Mayo Clinic psychiatrist who has used ketamine to treat depression patients since February.

“We don’t have a lot of things that provide that kind of effect. What I worry about is that it gets so hyped up,” she said.

The strongest studies suggest it’s most useful and generally safe in providing short-term help for patients who have not benefited from antidepressants. That amounts to about one-third of the roughly 300 million people with depression worldwide.

“It truly has revolutionized the field,” changing scientists’ views on how depression affects the brain and showing that rapid relief is possible, said Yale University psychiatrist Dr. Gerard Sanacora, who has done research for or consulted with companies seeking to develop ketamine-based drugs.

But to become standard depression treatment, he said, much more needs to be known.

Last year, Sanacora co-authored an American Psychiatric Association task force review of ketamine treatment for mood disorders that noted the benefits but said “major gaps” remain in knowledge about long-term effectiveness and safety. Most studies have been small, done in research settings and not in the real world.

When delivered through an IV, ketamine can cause a rapid increase in heart rate and blood pressure that could be dangerous for some patients. Ketamine also can cause hallucinations that some patients find scary.

“There are some very real concerns,” Sanacora said. “We do know this drug can be abused, so we have to be very careful about how this is developed.”

Dr. Rahul Khare, an emergency medicine specialist in Chicago, first learned about ketamine’s other potential benefits a decade ago from a depressed and anxious patient he was preparing to sedate to fix a repeat dislocated shoulder.

“He said, ‘Doc, give me what I got last time. For about three weeks after I got it I felt so much better,’” Khare recalled.

Khare became intrigued and earlier this year began offering ketamine for severe depression at an outpatient clinic he opened a few years ago. He also joined the American Society for Ketamine Physicians, formed a year ago representing about 140 U.S. doctors, nurses, psychologists and others using ketamine for depression or other nonapproved uses.

703-844-0184 | Ketamine Treatment Center | Fairfax , VA 22306 | Loudon, Va
Dr. Rahul Khare poses for a portrait at his outpatient Chicago clinic on July 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)

There are about 150 U.S. ketamine clinics, compared with about 20 three years ago, said society co-founder Dr. Megan Oxley.

Khare said the burgeoning field “is like a new frontier” where doctors gather at meetings and compare notes. He has treated about 50 patients with depression including Pestikas. They’re typically desperate for relief after failing to respond to other antidepressants. Some have lost jobs and relationships because of severe depression, and most find that ketamine allows them to function, Khare said.

Typical treatment at his clinic involves six 45-minute sessions over about two weeks, costing $550 each. Some insurers will pay about half of that, covering Khare’s office visit cost. Patients can receive “booster” treatments. They must sign a four-page consent form that says benefits may not be long-lasting, lists potential side effects, and in bold letters states that the treatment is not government-approved.

At a recent session, Pestikas’s seventh, she leaned back on a reclining white examining-room chair as a nurse hooked her up to a heart and blood pressure monitor. She grimaced as a needle was slipped into the top of her left palm. Khare reached up with a syringe to inject a small dose of ketamine into an IV bag hanging above the chair, then dimmed the lights, pulled the window curtains and asked if she had questions and was feeling OK.

“No questions, just grateful,” Pestikas replied, smiling.

Pestikas listened to music on her iPhone and watched psychedelic videos. She said it was like “a controlled acid trip” with pleasant hallucinations. The trip ends soon after the IV is removed, but Pestikas said she feels calm and relaxed the rest of the day, and that the mood boost can last weeks.

Studies suggest that a single IV dose of ketamine far smaller than used for sedation or partying can help many patients gain relief within about four hours and lasting nearly a week or so.

Exactly how ketamine works is unclear, but one idea is that by elevating glutamate levels, ketamine helps nerve cells re-establish connections that were disabled by depression, said ketamine expert Dr. Carlos Zarate, chief of experimental therapies at the National Institute of Mental Health.

A small Stanford University study published in August suggested that ketamine may help relieve depression by activating the brain’s opioid receptors.

Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Allergan are among drug companies developing ketamine-like drugs for depression. Janssen leads the effort with its nasal spray esketamine. The company filed a new drug application in September.

Meanwhile, dozens of studies are underway seeking to answer some of the unknowns about ketamine including whether repeat IV treatments work better for depression and if there’s a way to zero in on which patients are most likely to benefit.

Until there are answers, Zarate of the mental health institute said ketamine should be a last-resort treatment for depression after other methods have failed.

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Ketamine and Depression

ketamine

ketamine

Introduction

What comes to mind when you think of Ketamine? A drug of abuse? A horse tranquiliser? An anaesthetic agent? In reality it is all three. It usually has short-term hallucinogenic effects or causes a dissociative feeling (e.g. detachment from reality, sedation, or  inability to move). However, with frequent use over time it can cause permanent problems such as ‘ketamine bladder’, resulting in pain and difficulty passing urine.

What we already know

 

Ketamine’s effects are mainly mediated via NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptor antagonism, although it is also an agonist at some opioid receptors and interacts with various other receptors, including noradrenaline, serotonin and muscarinic cholinergic receptors.

It is a class B illicit substance and was, in fact, upgraded from class C in June 2014 following a review of its harmful effects. Ketamine (either intramuscularly or intravenously) is licensed for use as an anaesthetic agent in children, young people and adults, but over the last few years interest has been growing in the role of Ketamine as an antidepressant agent. It is not currently licensed for this purpose.

Areas of uncertainty

A study published in 2013 suggested that a single injected dose of Ketamine was associated with a rapid-onset antidepressant effect in patients with treatment-resistant depression (Murrough et al). The biggest challenge in terms of research with ketamine is that it remains tricky to compare against a placebo, given the fairly obvious side effects of taking a hallucinogenic drug, but this study compared Ketamine with Midazolam and this is probably the best comparator so far.

The following year, an open label study was published, which found similar antidepressant effects but a whole host of adverse effects were identified (Diamond et al), including anxiety and panic symptoms, increased suicidal ideation, vomiting, headaches and the anticipated feelings of detachment, confusion and dissociative symptoms.

There was a paucity of good quality information until, in 2015, a systematic review and meta-analysis of 21 studies  showed that single ketamine infusions produced a significant anti-depressant effect for up to seven days. Beyond this time, there was no evidence to suggest a prolonged effect.

What’s in the pipeline

There is some evidence to suggest that Ketamine may also work for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Another proposed use for Ketamine (currently being researched at the University of Manchester) is as an adjunct for Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), potentially minimizing the cognitive impairments experienced post-ECT.

Ketamine remains one of the most promising new treatments for depression, both unipolar and bipolar, but it is not without its problems. Requiring specialist referral and a stay in hospital overnight for a single dose clearly has financial and logistical implications far beyond those of antidepressant tablets with a stronger evidence base behind them. We also need more information about safety and adverse effects, before it can be introduced to a wider market.

References

Coyle, C. M. and Laws, K. R. (2015), The use of ketamine as an antidepressant: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Hum. Psychopharmacol Clin Exp. [Abstract]

Diamond PR, Farmery AD, Atkinson S, Haldar J, Williams N, Cowen PJ, Geddes JR and McShane R. Ketamine infusions for treatment resistant depression: a series of 28 patients treated weekly or twice weekly in an ECT clinic (PDF). J Psychopharmacol, 0269881114527361, first published on April 3, 2014. [PDF]

Murrough, J.W.; Iosifescu, D.V.; Chang, L.C.; Al Jurdi, R.K.; Green, C.E.; Perez, A.M. et al. (2013). Antidepressant efficacy of ketamine in treatment-resistant major depression; a two-site randomized controlled trial. Am J Psychiatry, 170, 1134-1142. [Abstract]

The antidepressant effects of ketamine are confirmed by a new systematic review and meta-analysis

shutterstock_18453376In recent times, few drugs have caused more excitement among clinical researchers than ketamine. It’s well known for its role in anaesthesia and veterinary surgery (“horse tranquilizer”), as well as its illicit use, but progress has been ongoing for about 15 years to repurpose it as an antidepressant.

As a consequence, many new studies are published every month that evaluate to what extent ketamine lives up to its promise as a new antidepressant drug (Aan Het Rot, Zarate, Charney, & Mathew, 2012). To make sense of the flood of new information, naturally intrigued mental elves clearly need researchers to provide timely updates of the current state of knowledge. To this end, Coyle and Laws (2015) have recently published an extensive systematic review and the first meta-analysis that summarises the latest, methodologically sound research.

The key questions of interest to these researchers were:

  • Does ketamine have an immediate effect in reducing depressive symptoms?
  • Are the antidepressant effects of ketamine sustained over time?
  • Are repeat infusions more effective in reducing depressive symptoms?
  • Do primary diagnosis and experimental design moderate the impact of ketamine on depressive symptoms?
  • Do men and women experience differences in the antidepressant effect of ketamine?

This review looked at how well the effects of ketamine are maintained over

This review looked at how well the effects of ketamine are maintained over 4 hours, 24 hours, 7 days and 12-14 days.

Methods

The authors followed PRISMA guidelines and scanned all relevant medical databases for studies assessing the antidepressant potential of ketamine in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BD). To evaluate possible methodological factors and design variables, the authors also specifically assessed whether studies were: repeat/single infusion, diagnosis, open-label/participant-blind infusion, pre-post/placebo-controlled design and patients’ sex.

Effect sizes were calculated either relative to placebo or relative to baseline, in case no control group was provided. To correct for bias in small studies, a Hedge’s g procedure with random effects was used. Statistical heterogeneity, publication bias and moderator variables were assessed to have an idea of other variables that might influence the reported antidepressant potential of ketamine. Statistical heterogeneity among studies was assessed using I² values, with values above 50% generally representing substantial heterogeneity.

Results

In total, 21 studies enrolling 437 patients receiving ketamine were identified that satisfied inclusion criteria:

  • 17 were single infusion studies and the majority reported data collected at 4h (11) and 24h (13) after ketamine treatment
  • 6 studies had follow-up for 7 days
  • 4 studies had follow-up for 12-14 days

In general, there are grounds to assume publication bias for single infusion studies at 4h and 24h.

Of the 21 included studies, 2 were judged to be at a high risk of bias, 13 medium risk and 6 low risk of bias.

  • In general, ketamine had a large statistical effect on depressive symptoms that was comparable across all time points
  • Effect sizes were significantly larger for repeat than single infusion at 4 h, 24 h and 7 days
  • For single infusion studies, effect sizes were large and significant at 4 h, 24 h and 7 days
  • The overall pooled effect sizes for single and repeated ketamine infusions found no difference at any time point, suggesting that the antidepressant effects of ketamine are maintained for at least 12-14 days

table3

Moderator analyses suggest that responsiveness to ketamine may vary according to diagnosis. Specifically, while ketamine produced moderate to large effects in both MDD and BD patients, the effect of a single infusion was significantly larger in MDD than BD after 24h. On the other hand, after 7 days, this pattern reversed and ketamine showed higher efficacy in BD patients. However, the small number of studies makes it tricky to draw any conclusions.

In addition, single-infusion pre-post comparisons did not differ in effect size estimation from placebo-controlled designs except for at 12-14 days, where only one study was available. In a similar vein, there were no effect size differences between single infusion studies with open-label and blinded infusions.

Of note, the meta-analysis found the percentage of males in the group was positively associated with ketamine’s antidepressant effects after 7 days, although this finding warrants replication with more data points.

There's huge room for improvement in the primary research, but this analysis shows ketamine in a promising light as an antidepressant.

There’s plenty of room for improvement in the primary research, but this meta-analysis shows ketamine in a promising light as an antidepressant.

Conclusions

The authors conclude:

Single ketamine infusions elicit a significant anti-depressant effect from 4h to 7days; the small number of studies at 12-14 days post infusion failed to reach significance. Results suggest a discrepancy in peak response time depending upon primary diagnosis – 24 h for MDD and 7 days for BD. The majority of published studies have used pre-post comparison; further placebo-controlled studies would help to clarify the effect of ketamine over time.

Limitations

This meta-analysis suffers from several limitations that are inherent in the available studies:

  • For one, there were only four studies that assessed the effect of repeated ketamine infusions, which is a shame given that maintenance of antidepressant effects is one of the key drawbacks of rapidly acting interventions
  • In addition, the authors note that their results suggest publication bias, which may be taken to indicate that several negative findings have not been published and thus could not be included in this meta-analysis
  • Also, more information about adverse effects would have been useful, especially to evaluate whether ketamine can be safely applied in a broader clinical context

Summary

This is the first meta-analysis to evaluate ketamine’s antidepressant effects. For single infusion specifically, ketamine exerts large antidepressant effects in MDD as well as BD patients that seem to last at least 7 days, while too few studies are available beyond this time point.

It’s noteworthy that the effect sizes did not differ between time points, which indicates that the effect of a single infusion remains relatively stable in the short-term. While repeated infusions were shown to provide higher effects than single infusions at least for the first week, more studies are needed to corroborate the supremacy of repeated treatment.

Before ketamine can become a clinically viable treatment option, however, this review makes it clear that more methodologically refined studies (especially RCTs with adequate placebo controls) need to be conducted. With this in mind, researchers should take these findings as an incitement to action!

High quality

High quality placebo controlled trials are needed to drive forward progress in this field.

Links

Primary paper

Coyle, C. M. and Laws, K. R. (2015), The use of ketamine as an antidepressant: a systematic review and meta-analysisHum. Psychopharmacol Clin Exp, doi: 10.1002/hup.2475. [PubMed abstract]

Other references

Aan Het Rot, M., Zarate, C. a, Charney, D. S., & Mathew, S. J. (2012). Ketamine for depression: where do we go from here? Biological Psychiatry72(7), 537–47. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.05.003

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The use of Ketamine for depression has been increasingly utilized and found effective for suicidal thoughts and treatment -resistant depression. The article below discusses the use of Ketamine in other mood disorders and the manner with which it is given:

 

Agrowing number of small clinical trials have demonstrated that subanesthetic doses of ketamine can produce antidepressant effects in patients with mood disorders who have demonstrated refractoriness to standard therapies.1 Patients in these trials have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder, and the sample sizes have ranged from 8 to 99. While there is broad agreement that ketamine-like drugs hold considerable promise as novel antidepressant agents, the increasing number of clinicians from a variety of medical specialties offering ketamine as an off-label treatment for psychiatric disorders2 has raised concern.

Although ketamine has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an anesthetic for more than 45 years, there remain concerns about the safety of repeated ketamine dosing. These concerns stem in part from reports of cognitive impairment and bladder dysfunction associated with repeated administration of the drug in rodent models and in humans with ketamine use disorder. Furthermore, concerns of spawning a substantial increase in iatrogenic ketamine use disorder related to wider use of ketamine for treating mental health disorders have led some to suggest more restricted use until additional data are available.

However, the lack of patent protection surrounding the use of racemic ketamine hydrochloride as a treatment for mood disorders makes it unlikely that larger phase 3 trials required for FDA consideration or standard postmarketing surveillance studies addressing issues of longer-term safety and effectiveness will ever be completed. In light of these facts, the American Psychiatric Association Council of Research Task Force on Novel Biomarkers and Treatments issued a consensus statement on the off-label use of ketamine for the treatment of mood disorders.3 This Viewpoint summarizes a number of important issues related to the clinical use of ketamine for the treatment of psychiatric disorders addressed in the consensus statement and provides suggestions for addressing remaining concerns.

Who Should Be Considered for Ketamine Treatment?

There was strong agreement among the contributors to the consensus that appropriate patient selection is a critical and necessary factor in optimizing the risk/benefit ratio of this novel treatment strategy. This requires a comprehensive evaluation and thorough consideration of the individual’s potential risks and benefits, considering the medical, psychological, and social factors specific to each patient. Considering the limited longer-term safety and efficacy data, only patients who have not responded to adequate trials of more standard antidepressant treatments should be candidates. Agreement was also reached that patients should be informed of the extent of the existing evidence regarding the use of ketamine in the treatment of psychiatric disorders before they provide consent to treatment. This should include acknowledgment of the relative dearth of published data on any diagnosis other than major depressive episodes, the limited evidence of long-term effectiveness, the possible or likely need for repeated administrations to maintain response, and the concerns regarding cognitive impairment, cystitis, and abuse liability.

Clinical Experience, Training, and Treatment Setting

No published guidelines exist delineating required clinician training prior to providing subanesthetic doses of ketamine as a treatment. Considering the delivery regimen most commonly used in published research protocols (0.5 mg/kg infused intravenously over 40 minutes) typically results in peak ketamine serum levels that are an order of magnitude below the peak levels used for anesthesia,4 it does not seem reasonable to impose the same training requirements as would be used in the case of ketamine anesthesia. However, even subanesthetic doses of ketamine can induce potentially concerning transient elevations in both heart rate and blood pressure.5 In addition, patients may also experience prominent psychoactive effects (such as perceptual and cognitive disturbances, derealization, and depersonalization) that can persist for 30 to 120 minutes following infusion cessation.

In consideration of these risks, the consensus statement recommended that, at a minimum, clinicians who administer ketamine be prepared to manage both cardiovascular and behavioral events should such arise, and suggested certification in Advanced Cardiac Life Support for clinicians delivering the treatment. The consensus statement also suggests that ketamine be provided by a clinician who can administer Drug Enforcement Agency Schedule III medications (in most states, this is a licensed physician with an MD or DO degree). The treatment facility should have a means of providing basic cardiac and respiratory monitoring as well as an established plan for providing stabilization and rapid transfer of patients with sustained alterations in cardiac functioning.

Dose and Delivery Procedure

Most evidence available to date has supported the use of 0.5-mg/kg ketamine hydrochloride given intravenously over 40 minutes. Comparatively little research has been published on other doses, routes of administration, or infusion durations. The only available randomized clinical data comparing various doses come from 2 small trials of 99 and 71 patients that suggest both lower and higher ketamine doses (0.1-1.0 mg/kg) may have some efficacy. Nevertheless, it should be noted that in both studies, the more commonly used 0.5-mg/kg dose was at least numerically more efficacious.6,7 Furthermore, the increased efficacy of the 0.5-mg/kg dose may be more pronounced in patients with severe depression compared with lower doses.7 However, lower doses do appear to have few associated adverse events. Thus, because of limited data, it is not possible to clarify the relative benefits and risks of doses other than 0.5 mg/kg delivered intravenously over 40 minutes.

To ensure patient safety, site-specific standard operating procedures should be developed and should include assessments of baseline vital signs, confirmation of preprocedural informed consent, criteria for acceptable baseline vital signs prior to initiating treatment, and criteria for prematurely stopping an infusion. Posttreatment assessments should confirm that each patient returns to a mental state that will allow for a safe return to the current living situation and a responsible adult should be available to transport the patient home if treatments are done on an outpatient basis.

Course of Treatment Planning

The only existing study to date examining dosing frequency suggests that dosing thrice weekly is no better than twice weekly induction dosing, although this evidence comes from a comparatively small (n = 68) randomized clinical trial.5 While some clinicians have reported more frequent dosing strategies,2 there is currently no published evidence to support the benefits of this practice over lower-frequency treatments.

Most published data supporting the use of ketamine as a treatment for mood disorders are based on trials that have followed up patients for just 1 week after a single administration of the drug.1 While a few small trials (7 trials with sample sizes ranging from 9 to 68) have demonstrated the relative safety of repeated infusions (4-6 total infusions over a couple of weeks), there is very little published data on the efficacy and safety of longer-term use. Most of these repeated dosing trials have shown that the majority of benefit experienced by patients occurs within the first 2 weeks of treatment. Hence, it may be reasonable to discontinue treatment after 2 weeks if no meaningful benefit is achieved.

As most trials to date suggest that a short course of ketamine does not usually provide long-lasting benefits to patients with a chronic disease, many clinicians currently offer maintenance ketamine treatment.2 However, there is insufficient evidence to meaningfully inform long-term treatment with ketamine. Considering the liability of the potential for abuse as well as concerns for cognitive impairment and cystitis associated with chronic high-frequency exposure, it is reasonable to suggest that clinicians limit the administration to the minimum effective dosing frequency and use recurring assessments of cognition, bladder functioning, and substance use when long-term treatment is provided until more information on the longer-term safety is available. Moreover, during this early stage of clinical development, the consensus statement strongly cautions against the practice of take-home, self-administration of ketamine.

Conclusions

While the discovery of ketamine’s robust and rapid-acting antidepressant effects has appropriately led to considerable enthusiasm among some clinicians and considerable hope among some patients, this enthusiasm for this promising treatment should be coupled with caution given the limitations of the existing knowledge base and the potential adverse effects of long-term treatment. However, considering the tremendous individual and societal burden of mood disorders, the high percentage of patients that do not achieve satisfactory responses from the currently available approved treatments, and the recent evidence of rising rates of suicide, expedited research into this potentially transformative treatment is needed. Several ongoing studies (such as NCT01945047NCT03113968, and NCT00088699) are attempting to address these knowledge gaps and enrollment in these trials should be encouraged when possible. In addition to the standard randomized clinical trials, the creation of a registry of patients receiving ketamine off-label as a treatment for mood disorders could serve as an efficient way to learn more about the longer-term effectiveness and safety of the treatment and could be beneficial in guiding the rational use of the treatment.

References

1.

Newport  DJ, Carpenter  LL, McDonald  WM, Potash  JB, Tohen  M, Nemeroff  CB; APA Council of Research Task Force on Novel Biomarkers and Treatments.  Ketamine and other NMDA antagonists.  Am J Psychiatry. 2015;172(10):950-966.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref

2.

Wilkinson  ST, Toprak  M, Turner  MS, Levine  SP, Katz  RB, Sanacora  G.  A survey of the clinical, off-label use of ketamine as a treatment for psychiatric disorders.  Am J Psychiatry. 2017;174(7):695-696.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref

3.

Sanacora  G, Frye  MA, McDonald  W,  et al; American Psychiatric Association (APA) Council of Research Task Force on Novel Biomarkers and Treatments.  A consensus statement on the use of ketamine in the treatment of mood disorders.  JAMA Psychiatry. 2017;74(4):399-405.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref

4.

Vuyk  J, Sitsen  E, Reekers  M. Intravenous anesthetics. In: Miller  RD, ed.  Miller’s Anesthesia. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:821-863.

5.

Singh  JB, Fedgchin  M, Daly  EJ,  et al.  A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, dose-frequency study of intravenous ketamine in patients with treatment-resistant depression.  Am J Psychiatry. 2016;173(8):816-826.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref

6.

Fava  M, Freeman  MP, Flynn  M,  et al. Double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-ranging trial of intravenous ketamine as adjunctive therapy in treatment-resistant depression. Presented at: Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology; May 30, 2017; Miami, Florida.

7.

Su  TP, Chen  MH, Li  CT,  et al.  Dose-related effects of adjunctive ketamine in Taiwanese patients with treatment-resistant depression [published online May 11, 2017].  Neuropsychopharmacology. doi:10.1038/npp.2017.94PubMedGoogle Scholar

A Consensus Statement on the Use of Ketamine in the Treatment of Mood Disorders

Gerard Sanacora, MD, PhD1Mark A. Frye, MD2William McDonald, MD3et alSanjay J. Mathew, MD4,5Mason S. Turner, MD6Alan F. Schatzberg, MD7Paul Summergrad, MD8Charles B. Nemeroff, MD, PhD9; for the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Council of Research Task Force on Novel Biomarkers and Treatments
JAMA Psychiatry. 2017;74(4):399-405. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.0080

A Consensus Statement on the Use of Ketamine in the Treatment of Mood Disorders

Abstract

Importance  Several studies now provide evidence of ketamine hydrochloride’s ability to produce rapid and robust antidepressant effects in patients with mood and anxiety disorders that were previously resistant to treatment. Despite the relatively small sample sizes, lack of longer-term data on efficacy, and limited data on safety provided by these studies, they have led to increased use of ketamine as an off-label treatment for mood and other psychiatric disorders.

Observations  This review and consensus statement provides a general overview of the data on the use of ketamine for the treatment of mood disorders and highlights the limitations of the existing knowledge. While ketamine may be beneficial to some patients with mood disorders, it is important to consider the limitations of the available data and the potential risk associated with the drug when considering the treatment option.

Conclusions and Relevance  The suggestions provided are intended to facilitate clinical decision making and encourage an evidence-based approach to using ketamine in the treatment of psychiatric disorders considering the limited information that is currently available. This article provides information on potentially important issues related to the off-label treatment approach that should be considered to help ensure patient safety.

 

Introduction

 

The American Psychiatric Association Council of Research Task Force on Novel Biomarkers and Treatments found that the data from 7 published placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized clinical studies on ketamine hydrochloride infusion therapy in the treatment of depression comprising 147 treated patients provide “compelling evidence that the antidepressant effects of ketamine infusion are both rapid and robust, albeit transient.”1(p958) Reports of ketamine’s unique antidepressant effects, combined with frequent media coverage promulgating the potential benefits of ketamine treatment, have generated substantial interest and optimism among patients, families, patient advocacy groups, and clinicians alike. This interest has led to a rapidly escalating demand for clinical access to ketamine treatment and an increasing number of clinicians willing to provide it. However, many in the field suggest that caution should be used with this approach, as the numbers of patients included in these published studies and case series remain relatively small (the eTable in the Supplement compares other recently developed treatments), and ketamine treatment for mood disorders has not been tested in larger-scale clinical trials to demonstrate its durability and safety over time.2,3 Moreover, the treatment approach has not been subject to the scrutiny of a US Food and Drug Administration review or approval for an on-label psychiatric indication, and, despite more than 45 years of clinical experience with ketamine as an anesthetic agent, there are no postmarketing surveillance data on the use of ketamine for any psychiatric indication to provide information on its safety and effectiveness.

 

The relatively unique nature of this situation presents an urgent need for some guidance on the issues surrounding the use of ketamine treatment in mood disorders. This review by the American Psychiatric Association Council of Research Task Force on Novel Biomarkers and Treatments Subgroup on Treatment Recommendations for Clinical Use of Ketamine is intended to complement the recent American Psychiatric Association meta-analysis1 and other recent reviews410 and aims to provide an overview and expert clinical opinion of the critical issues and considerations associated with the off-label use of ketamine treatment for mood disorders. Because relatively limited high-quality, published information on this topic exists, to our knowledge, this report is not intended to serve as a standard, guideline, clinical policy, or absolute requirement. The main intent of the report is to highlight the current state of the field and the critical issues to be considered when contemplating the use of ketamine for treatment-resistant depression. Use of this report cannot guarantee any specific outcome and is not endorsed or promulgated as policy of the American Psychiatric Association.

 

Patient Selection

 

There are no clearly established indications for the use of ketamine in the treatment of psychiatric disorders. However, the selection of appropriate patients for ketamine treatment requires consideration of the risks and benefits of the treatment in the context of the patient’s severity of depression, duration of current episode, previous treatment history, and urgency for treatment. To date, the strongest data supporting ketamine’s clinical benefit in psychiatric disorders are in the treatment of major depressive episodes without psychotic features associated with major depressive disorder.1,11 Even these data are limited by the fact that most of those studies evaluated efficacy only during the first week following a single infusion of ketamine. However, emerging studies suggest that repeated dosing can extend the duration of effect for at least several weeks.12,13 Although some limited data on the use of ketamine in treating other psychiatric diagnoses exist (eBox 1 in the Supplement), we do not believe there are sufficient data to provide a meaningful review of the assessment of risks and benefits of ketamine use in these other disorders at present.

 

In addition to diagnostic considerations, appropriate patient selection requires an assessment of other medical, psychological, or social factors that may alter the risk to benefit ratio of the treatment and affect the patient’s capacity to provide informed consent. For these reasons, we recommend that each patient undergo a thorough pretreatment evaluation process (Table)1417 that assesses several relevant features of the patient’s past and current medical and psychiatric condition before initiating ketamine treatment. We also recommend that an informed consent process be completed during this evaluation. Rationale for the suggestions listed in the Table are provided in eBox 1 in the Supplement.

 

Clinician Experience and Training

 

There are considerable differences in the experience and clinical expertise of the clinicians currently administering ketamine to patients for the treatment of mood disorders. At present, there are no published guidelines or recommendations outlining the specific training requirements that clinicians should complete before administering doses of ketamine that are lower than those used in anesthesia. In attempting to balance the needs for treatment availability and patient safety, one must consider the information available regarding the use of ketamine at the relevant dose range in similar patient populations to formulate an advisory on clinical credentialing for ketamine administration for the treatment of mood disorders.

 

The peak plasma ketamine hydrochloride concentrations of 70 to 200 ng/mL seen with the typical antidepressant dose of 0.5 mg/kg delivered intravenously (IV) during 40 minutes (0.5 mg/kg per 40 minutes IV) do not produce general anesthetic effects. The concentrations are well below the peak plasma ketamine hydrochloride concentrations generally used for surgical anesthesia (2000-3000 ng/mL) and below the concentrations associated with awakening from ketamine hydrochloride anesthesia (500-1000 ng/mL).1820 Reporting on 833 ketamine infusions in healthy individuals resulting in peak plasma ketamine concentrations in the same general range as those achieved with a dose of 0.5 mg/kg per 40 minutes IV, Perry et al21 found 3 individuals who became nonresponsive to verbal stimuli, but all remained medically stable during the infusion and none required any form of respiratory assistance. A second, more recent study reported no persistent medical complications or significant changes in oxygen saturation among 84 otherwise healthy patients with depression who received a total of 205 infusions of ketamine hydrochloride, 0.5 mg/kg per 40 minutes IV.9 However, transient mean (SD) peak increases in systolic (19.6 [12.8] mm Hg) and diastolic (13.4 [9.8] mm Hg) blood pressure were reported during the infusions, with blood pressure levels exceeding 180/100 mm Hg or heart rates exceeding 110 beats per minute in approximately 30% of the patients treated. A single serious adverse cardiovascular-related event was reported in this study (0.49% of infusions), but it was considered to be attributable to a vasovagal episode following venipuncture for a blood draw, and it resolved without complications.

 

The data available from these studies and other case reports in the literature suggest that the dose of ketamine hydrochloride typically used in the treatment of mood disorders (0.5 mg/kg per 40 minutes IV) does not appear to have significant effects on the respiratory status of healthy individuals or patients with depression who are otherwise generally medically healthy. However, ketamine treatment could have meaningful effects on blood pressure and heart rate for some patients. Considering the potential risks associated with ketamine hydrochloride administration at the dose of 0.5 mg/kg per 40 minutes IV, it is recommended that clinicians delivering the treatment be prepared to manage potential cardiovascular events should they occur. Based on this information, we suggest that a licensed clinician who can administer a Drug Enforcement Administration Schedule III medication (in most states this is an MD or DO with appropriate licensing) with Advanced Cardiac Life Support certification should provide the treatments.

 

Because it is also possible for patients to experience prominent transient dissociative or even psychotomimetic effects while being treated with ketamine,22 clinicians should also be familiar with behavioral management of patients with marked mental status changes and be prepared to treat any emergency behavioral situations. Furthermore, it is suggested that an on-site clinician be available and able to evaluate the patient for potential behavioral risks, including suicidal ideation, before discharge to home. Finally, treating clinicians should be able to ensure that rapid follow-up evaluations of patients’ psychiatric symptoms can be provided as needed.

 

In addition to the minimal general training requirements, it is also recommended that clinicians develop some level of experience with the specific method of ketamine administration before performing the procedure independently. Precise delineation of required experience and documentation of this experience should be based on local community standards of practice and/or clinical practice committees. Reports such as the Statement on Granting Privileges for Administration of Moderate Sedation to Practitioners Who Are Not Anesthesia Professionals, published by the American Society of Anesthesiologists,23 can be used to inform the development of these standards.

 

Treatment Setting

 

Although the administration of ketamine at peak plasma concentrations similar to those produced by a dose of 0.5 mg/kg per 40 minutes IV has proven to be relatively safe to date, the potentially concerning acute effects on cardiovascular function and behavior suggest that the clinical setting should provide sufficient means of monitoring the patients and providing immediate care if necessary. Although there are relatively low levels of evidence to support the use of any specific monitoring methods in reducing the risks of ketamine treatment with doses that are lower than those used in anesthesia, it should be expected that such a facility have a means of monitoring basic cardiovascular (electrocardiogram, blood pressure) and respiratory (oxygen saturation or end-tidal CO2) function. It should also be expected that there would be measures in place to rapidly address and stabilize a patient if an event should arise. These measures would include a means of delivering oxygen to patients with reduced respiratory function, medication, and, if indicated, restraints to manage potentially dangerous behavioral symptoms. Moreover, there should be an established plan to rapidly address any sustained alterations in cardiovascular function, such as providing advanced cardiac life support or transfer to a hospital setting capable of caring for acute cardiovascular events. Patients deemed at higher risk for complications based on pretreatment evaluation should be treated at a facility that is appropriately equipped and staffed to manage any cardiovascular or respiratory events that may occur.

 

Medication Delivery

 

Dose

 

Most clinical trials and case reports available in the literature have used the ketamine hydrochloride dose of 0.5 mg/kg per 40 minutes IV that was cited in the original report by Berman et al.24 Limited information is available regarding the use of different routes of delivery and doses of ketamine. A meta-analysis of 6 trials assessing the effects of the standard dose of 0.5 mg/kg per 40 minutes IV and 3 trials assessing very low doses of ketamine hydrochloride (50-mg intranasal spray, 0.1-0.4 mg/kg IV, and 0.1-0.5 mg/kg IV intramuscularly or subcutaneously) reported that the dose of 0.5 mg/kg per 40 minutes IV appears to be more effective than very low doses in reducing the severity of depression.4 However, there is substantial heterogeneity in the design of the clinical trials, and the total number of participants included in that analysis is very few, markedly limiting the ability to draw any firm conclusions from this report.

 

Although there is now a growing number of reports examining the effects of various doses and rates of ketamine infusion, including studies showing lower doses and reduced infusion rates2527 to be effective and studies showing higher doses and extended infusion rates28,29 to have clinical benefit, at present we believe that insufficient information was provided in those studies to allow any meaningful analysis of any specific dose or route of treatment compared with the standard dose of 0.5 mg/kg per 40 minutes IV. Considering the lower-level evidence for doses and routes of administration other than 0.5 mg/kg per 40 minutes IV, if alternative doses are being used, that information should be presented to the patient during the informed consent process, and appropriate precautions should be made in managing any increased risk associated with the changes in ketamine administration. However, the use of alternative doses and routes of administration could be appropriate for individual patients under specific conditions.

 

One example of a rationale for dose adjustment is related to the dosing of ketamine for patients with a high body mass index (calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared). The fact that greater hemodynamic changes were observed in patients with a body mass index of 30 or higher who were receiving a dose of 0.5 mg/kg per 40 minutes9suggests that adjusting the ketamine dosing to ideal body weight (using the person’s calculated ideal body weight and not actual body weight to determine dosing) may be an appropriate step to help ensure safety for patients with a body mass index of 30 or higher. However, there is currently very limited information supporting this approach.

 

Delivery Procedure

 

To help best ensure patient safety and to minimize risks, it is strongly advised that site-specific standard operating procedures be developed and followed for the delivery of ketamine treatments for major depressive episodes. The standard operating procedure should contain predosing considerations covering the following: (1) confirmation of preprocedural evaluation and informed consent; (2) assessment of baseline vital signs, including blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen saturation or end-tidal CO2; (3) criteria for acceptable baseline vital signs before initiation of medication delivery (eBox 2 in the Supplement); and (4) incorporation of a “time-out” procedure in which the name of the patient and correct dosing parameters are confirmed.

Supplement

 

Standard operating procedures should also include specifically defined ongoing assessments of patients’ physiological and mental status during the infusion process, including the following: (1) assessment of respiratory status (ie, oxygen saturation or end-tidal CO2); (2) assessment of cardiovascular function (blood pressure and heart rate, reported on a regular basis); (3) assessment of the level of consciousness (ie, Modified Observer’s Assessment of Alertness/Sedation Scale30) or other documented assessment of responsiveness; and (4) delineation of criteria for stopping the infusion (eBox 3 in the Supplement) and a clear plan for managing cardiovascular or behavioral events during treatment.

 

Immediate posttreatment evaluations, assessments, and management should ensure that the patient has returned to a level of function that will allow for safe return to his or her current living environment. This assessment should include documentation of return to both baseline physiological measures and mental status. It is also critical to ensure that a responsible adult is available to transport the patient home if the treatment is being administered on an outpatient basis. Recommendations regarding driving and use of heavy machinery, as well as use of concomitant medications, drugs, or alcohol, should also be reviewed before discharge. It is also important to review follow-up procedures and ensure that the patient has a means of rapidly contacting an appropriately trained clinician if necessary.

 

Follow-up and Assessments

 

Efficacy Measures of Short-term Repeated Administration

 

The existing data surrounding the benefits of repeated infusions of ketamine remain limited.1,11 Although an increasing number of small case series evaluate the efficacy of repeated ketamine administration for the treatment of major depressive episodes, there is a very small number of randomized clinical trials in the literature.1 The lack of clinical trials in this area makes it difficult to provide suggestions on the frequency and duration of treatment with even moderate levels of confidence. Most studies and case reports published to date on this topic have examined the effects of less than 1 month of treatment.12,26,3134

 

A recent randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial (using saline as the placebo) of 68 patients with treatment-resistant major depressive disorder examined the efficacy of ketamine, 0.5 mg/kg per 40 minutes IV, both 2 and 3 times weekly for up to 2 weeks and found both dosing regimens to be nearly equally efficacious (change in mean [SD] Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale total score for ketamine 2 times weekly, –18.4 [12.0] vs placebo, –5.7 [10.2]; and ketamine 3 times weekly, –17.7 [7.3] vs placebo, –3.1 [5.7]).13 After 2 weeks of treatment, patients treated with ketamine 2 times weekly showed a 69% rate of response and 37.5% rate of remission vs placebo, at 15% and 7.7%, respectively, and those treated with ketamine 3 times weekly had a 53.8% rate of response and 23.1% rate of remission vs placebo, at 6% and 0%, respectively. In the ensuing open-label phase of the study, patients were allowed to continue with active medication at the dose frequency they were originally assigned for an additional 2-week period. At the end of 4 weeks of treatment, the 13 patients who received ketamine 2 times weekly and continued to receive the additional 2 weeks of treatment had a mean 27-point reduction in the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale score compared with a 23-point decrease for the 13 patients who received ketamine 3 times weekly. Although this was clearly not a definitive study, it is the best evidence currently available, to our knowledge, to suggest that twice-weekly dosing is as efficacious as more frequent dosing for a period of up to 4 weeks. In general, most of the available reports describing the effects of repeated treatments showed the largest benefits occurring early in the course of treatment, but some reports did show some cumulative benefit of continued treatment.31

 

Very limited data exist to suggest a clear point of determining the futility of treatment, but there are a few reports of patients responding after more than 3 infusions. Based on the limited data available, patients should be monitored closely using a rating instrument to assess clinical change to better reevaluate the risk to benefit ratio of continued treatment. In addition, only 1 report suggests that an increased dose of ketamine (beyond 0.5 mg/kg per 40 minutes) may lead to a response to treatment in patients who had previously not responded.28 Equally few data are available to suggest a standard number of treatments that should be administered to optimize longer-term benefit of the treatment.

 

Efficacy of Longer-term Repeated Administration

 

To our knowledge, there are extremely limited published data on the longer-term effectiveness and safety of ketamine treatment in mood disorders. This literature is confined to a few case series that do not allow us to make a meaningful statement about the longer-term use of ketamine.35,36 Several clinics providing such treatments are currently using a 2- or 3-week course of ketamine delivered 2 or 3 times per week, followed by a taper period and/or continued treatments based on empirically determined duration of responses for each patient. However, there remain no published data that clearly support this practice, and it is strongly recommended that the relative benefit of each ketamine infusion be considered in light of the potential risks associated with longer-term exposure to ketamine and the lack of published evidence for prolonged efficacy with ongoing administration. The scarcity of this information is one of the major drawbacks to be considered before initiating ketamine therapy for patients with mood disorders and should be discussed with the patient before beginning treatment.

 

Safety Measures and Continuation of Treatment

 

Based on the known or suspected risks of cognitive impairment37 and cystitis38 associated with chronic high-frequency use of ketamine and the known substance abuse liability of the drug, assessments of cognitive function, urinary discomfort, and substance use39 should be considered if repeated administrations are provided (eBox 4 in the Supplement).

 

Considering the known potential for abuse of ketamine40 and recent reports of abuse of prescribed ketamine for the treatment of depression,41 clinicians should be vigilant about assessing the potential for patients to develop ketamine use disorder. Close clinical follow-up with intermittent urine toxicology screening for drugs of abuse and inquiries about attempts to receive additional ketamine treatments at other treatment centers should be implemented when clinical suspicion of ketamine abuse is present. Moreover, the number and frequency of treatments should be limited to the minimum necessary to achieve clinical response. Considering the evidence suggesting that the mechanism of action requires some delayed physiological effect to the treatment and does not appear to require sustained blood concentrations of the drug to be present, there is no evidence to support the practice of frequent ketamine administration. The previously mentioned report showing twice-weekly dosing to be at least as effective as dosing 3 times a week13 for up to 4 weeks appears to support this idea instead of more frequent dosing schedules.

 

At this point of early clinical development, we strongly advise against the prescription of at-home self-administration of ketamine; it remains prudent to have all doses administered with medical supervision until more safety information obtained under controlled situations can be collected. Discontinuation of ketamine treatment is recommended if the dosing cannot be spaced out to a minimum administration of 1 dose per week by the second month of treatment. The goal remains to eventually taper and discontinue treatment until more long-term safety data can be collected.

 

Future Directions

 

The rapid onset of robust, transient antidepressant effects associated with ketamine infusions has generated much excitement and hope for patients with refractory mood disorders and the clinicians who treat them. However, it is necessary to recognize the major gaps that remain in our knowledge about the longer-term efficacy and safety of ketamine infusions. Future research is needed to address these unanswered questions and concerns. Although economic factors make it unlikely that large-scale, pivotal phase 3 clinical trials of racemic ketamine will ever be completed, there are several studies with federal and private foundation funding aiming to address some of these issues. It is imperative that clinicians and patients continue to consider enrollment in these studies when contemplating ketamine treatment of a mood disorder. It is only through these standardized clinical trials that we will be able to collect the data necessary to answer some of the crucial questions pertaining to the efficacy and safety of the drug. A second means of adding to the knowledge base is to develop a coordinated system of data collection on all patients receiving ketamine for the treatment of mood disorders. After such a registry is created, all clinicians providing ketamine treatment should consider participation.

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Ketamine’s role in treatment of depression: Study

The anaesthetic drug Ketamine has been shown to be beneficial in some cases of depression and suicidal ideation which have typically failed to respond to other standard antidepressant medications. A new study has explored the actual workings of ketamine in depression and found that the drug can act on the same receptors as opioid pain relievers.

The latest study was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

For this the researchers from the Stanford’s Neurosciences Institute included 12 volunteers at first. These cases were all of treatment-resistant depression.

The participants were all given infusion of Ketamine. In addition some were administered naltrexone and others normal saline infusion. Naltrexone is a drug that can block the effects of opioids.

Results showed that those on ketamine and saline combination found relief from their depressive symptoms quickly compared to those on ketamine and naltrexone combination. In fact those on ketamine and saline placebo reported at least a 90 percent reduction in their symptoms within the first three days of the infusion.

No such improvement was seen among those on ketamine and naltrexone. This proved that when the opioid actions are blocked, the ketamine cannot function as an antidepressant. Both groups faced certain side effects of ketamine such as an “out-of-the-body” experience, dysphoric feelings, tripping etc. This also showed that the antidepressant action of Ketamine was separate from its usual actions, which were seen in all participants in either group.

The initial trial plan was to include 30 patients. Due to the dramatic improvement seen in one group and no changes in the other, the team decided to stop the trial prematurely. This was to spare patients useless treatment.

Ketamine has been in news recently due to its unexplored potential as an antidepressant. If proven, researchers believe, this could impact depression research significantly. Ketamine has gathered interest mainly because it does not change the brain chemistry unlike other antidepressants. Co-author Boris Heifets, a clinical assistant professor of anesthesiology, perioperative and pain medicine at Stanford explained that ketamine blocks the brain’s receptors for glutamate. Glutamate is an important neurotransmitter in the brain. Many researchers have thought that glutamate could be the key zone where ketamine acts as an antidepressant. Heifets added that ketamine is not a simple drug and has varied targets which could be responsible for its antidepressant activities. A lot of money has been spent on developing agents that could work on the glutamate receptors and try to mimic ketamine’s antidepressant actions.

This study shows that the approach is incorrect and glutamates are not the target lead author Nolan Williams explained. Co-senior study author Dr. Alan Schatzberg, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford explained that the ketamine was not working as “everyone thought it was working.”

Heifets noted that ketamine is a drug of abuse (called “Special K” in party circuits) that has been in use for a long time and there is an abuse potential of this drug acting on the opioid receptors to provide such effects. He warned that this abuse potential should be kept in mind before ketamine comes into the market as an antidepressant.

However the whole team agrees that this new study shows how ketamine can help patients who have intractable depression. New drugs could be developed in the same lines they explain. These drugs could possibly activate the opioid receptors without having abuse potential they add. Williams added that ketamine has been seen to provide relief of symptoms in other mental ailments such as obsessive compulsive disorders and now is the time to explore if opioids play a role in these diseases as well.

Mark George, a professor of psychiatry, radiology and neuroscience at the Medical University of South Carolina in an editorial accompanying the article wrote that this study is a small one and so should be confirmed in larger trials before conclusions could be drawn.

VA Using Ketamine for PTSD and Depression | IV Ketamine for Depression | 703-844-0184 | Alexandria, Va | 22306 | Ketamine therapy | IV Ketamine center | Ketamine doctor | Springfield, Va | Fairfax, Va 22314 22304

VA Using Ketamine for PTSD and Depression | IV Ketamine for Depression | 703-844-0184

NOVA Health Recovery  <<< Ketamine Treatment Center Fairfax, Virginia

CAll 703-844-0184 for an immediate appointment to evaluate you for a Ketamine infusion:

Ketaminealexandria.com    703-844-0184 Call for an infusion to treat your depression. PTSD, Anxiety, CRPS, or other pain disorder today.

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The VA Recognizes Ketamine As An Emergency Treatment For PTSD And Depression Patients At High Suicide Risk

CLEARWATER, Fla., Sept. 27, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Long used as an safe and effective sedative for surgery, Ketamine has found new life as a treatment for severe depression, PTSD and suicidal ideation. Praised by some mental health experts, the drug so far has achieved very good results in clinical trials. The military now recognizes its’ potential, and last fall Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio became part of study on its effects. BAMC will treat active-duty troops with Ketamine, while a VA hospital near Yale will treat veterans. Another study is currently underway at a Veterans Affairs medical center in Cleveland, Ohio. The VA is trying to stem the tide of rising suicide rates among veterans, which average 22 per day – that’s one suicide every 65 minutes.

A staff psychiatrist at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center in Ohio, Dr. Punit Vaidya stated “30% of individuals with major depression don’t respond to traditional medications, so people can become desperate for things that work, because they can have a huge impact on their quality of life, and their overall functioning. The effects of the ketamine infusion can often be seen within a day, if not hours,” Vaidya explained. “If you look at their depression ratings and suicidal ratings given right before treatment and even four hours later you can see a significant reduction and I think that’s really quite remarkable,” Vaidya said.

Dr. Ashraf Hanna, a board certified physician and director of pain management at the Florida Spine Institute in Clearwater, Florida discusses PTSD and Treatment-Resistant Depression: “There are many forms of depression that can be treated by a psychiatrist with various modalities, anti-depressants and psychotherapy. IV Ketamine therapy is only reserved for those patients that have Treatment-Resistant Depression that have failed conventional therapy. IV Ketamine infusion therapyhas offered a new hope to patients that had no hope.”

When asked what prompted his use of IV Ketamine for PTSD and Depression and if any universities were involved in its development, Dr. Hanna went on to say: “There have been multiple universities involved in the research such as Harvard, Yale and Stanford that have proven the success rate of IV Ketamine for treatment-resistant depression. Since I was already successfully using IV Ketamine for CRPS/RSD,FibromyalgiaNeuropathy, and Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome, with over 10,000 infusions to date, I wanted to expand the treatment for PTSD, Depression, bipolar and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders. Since I am not a psychiatrist, I do not treat depression, but I work with qualified psychiatrists, and if he or she feels the patient has failed other treatment modalities, I then administer IV Ketamine for treatment-resistant depression.”

Dr. Bal Nandra and Ketamine patient Jason LaHood on how Ketamine is redefining the way patients are treated for depression

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Links for Ketamine Articles

  1. NYMag.com – What It’s Like to Have Your Severe Depression Treated With a Hallucinogenic Drug
    http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/03/what-its-like-to-treat-severe-depression-with-a-hallucinogenic-drug.html
  2. Huffington Post – How Ketamine May Help Treat Severe Depression
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/04/05/how-ketamine-may-help-treat-severe-depression_a_22027886/
  3. Murrough, Iosifescu, Chang et al. Antidepressant Efficacy in Treatment-Resistant Major Depression: A Two-Site Randomized Controlled Trial  Am J Psychiatry. 2013 Oct 1, 170(10): 1134-1142
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3992936/
  4. Murrough, Perez, Pillemer, et al.. Rapid and Longer0Term Antidepressant Effects of Repeated Ketamine Infusions in Treatment-Resistant Major Depression Biol Psychiatry 2013 Aug 15; 74(4): 250-256
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3725185/
  5. Murrough, Burdick, Levitch et al. Neurocognitive Effects of Ketamine and Association with Antidepressant Response in Individuals with Treatment-Resistant Depression: A Randomized Controlled Trial Neuropsychopharmacology 2015 Apr; 40(5): 1084-1090
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4367458/
  6. Feder, Parides, et al. Efficacy of Intravenous Ketamine for Treatment of Chronic Posttraumatic Stress Disorder A Randomized Clinical Trial Jama Psychiatry 2014 June;71(6): 681-8
    http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/1860851
  7. Schwartz, Murrough, Iosifescu Ketamine for treatment-resistant depression: recent developments and clinical applications Evid Based Ment Health 2016 May; 19(2):35-8
    http://ebmh.bmj.com/content/ebmental/19/2/35.full.pdf
  8. Rodriguez, Kegeles, et al Randomized Controlled Crossover Trial of Ketamine in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Proof-of-Concept Neuropsychopharmacology 2013 Nov; 38(12): 2475-2483
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3799067/pdf/npp2013150a.pdf
  9. Singh, Fedgchin, Daly et al. A Double-Blind, Randomized, Pacebo-Controlled, Dose-Frequency Study of Intravenous Ketamine in Patients With Treatment-Resistant Depression American Journal of Psychiatry 2016 August; 173(8): 816-826
    http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/pdf/10.1176/appi.ajp.2016.16010037
  10. Taylor,  Landeros-Weisenberger, Coughlin et al. Ketamine for Social Anxiety Disorder: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Crossover Trial  Neuropsychopharmacology 2017 August;
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28849779

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WHAT CAN I EXPECT AT AN INFUSION VISIT?

We will ask you to fast for 8 hours before your infusion. Once you have checked in, you will complete a questionnaire to assess your current status. The IV will be started in your hand or your arm using a small catheter. This may feel like a sting from a small bug bite. The Ketamine will be administered through your IV over a period of 40 minutes. We will take your vital signs before, during, and after the infusion. After resting for an additional 15-20 minutes after the infusion, you will be discharged home with your driver.

  1. What is Ketamine? 
    Ketamine is an anesthetic drug that has been available since the 1960’s. In high doses, it can cause a ‘dissociative anesthesia” which induces hypnosis like states as well as unconsciousness. Around 2000, scientists started looking at Ketamine IV infusions carefully when its clinical usefulness was expanded to include a role in the management of mood disorders as well as chronic pain.
  2. Why can I not drive the day of the infusion?
    Ketamine is a potent anesthetic. As with any anesthetic, we advise our patients to NOT operate any heavy machinery for the remainder of the day due to potential residual effects.
  3. What are the side effects?
    Less than 2% of people will experience side effects. Some of the common side effects are: drowsiness, nausea, dizziness, poor coordination, blurred vision, and feeling strange or unreal. Most of these symptoms dissipate after the first hour of receiving the infusion.
  4. Are there certain conditions that are contra-indications for Ketamine treatment?
    Yes. If you have a history of cardiovascular disease, uncontrolled hypertension, history of psychosis, history of failed Ketamine infusion treatment, history of substance abuse or dependence within the year (patients will undergo a screening process) you will not qualify for Ketamine infusion treatments.
  5. How will I know if I need a booster infusion and how frequently will I require them?
    The duration of antidepressant efficacy after the initial treatment is different for everyone. The studies show that the variance can be 15 days to indefinitely. This is quite a range and unfortunately, there are no predictors for the duration.
  6. Is there a guarantee that this will work for me?
    Unfortunately, we cannot give guarantees.  Studies have shown that 70% of people will obtain efficacy.  After the first 2 infusions, we will be able to ascertain whether the infusions will work for you. We will not advise you to continue your treatment after the first 2 infusions if we do not see a certain amount of improvement.
  7. Isn’t Ketamine addictive? 
    Ketamine has the potential to be addictive. Studies have shown that at these doses and frequency, Ketamine is not addictive.
  8. Do I have to continue my current treatments for depression? 
    Yes. We advise that you alert your current health care provider that you are undergoing these treatments and that you maintain your current regimen.  It can be dangerous to stop taking your medications without the care of a physician. Our patients have a brighter outlook and a positive drive after their treatment that has allowed them to have higher success rates with psychotherapy. We will be happy to work with your current health care provider to provide the optimal outcome.

_____________________________________

VA Using Ketamine for PTSD and Depression

Revisiting the Hallucinogenic Potential of Ketamine | 703-844-0184 | Ketamine for depression | IV Ketamine | Alexandria, Va 22306 | Ketamine IV | Ketamine center | Ketamine drip |

NOVA Health Recovery  <<< Ketamine Treatment Center Fairfax, Virginia

CAll 703-844-0184 for an immediate appointment to evaluate you for a Ketamine infusion:

Ketaminealexandria.com    703-844-0184 Call for an infusion to treat your depression. PTSD, Anxiety, CRPS, or other pain disorder today.

email@novahealthrecovery.com  << Email for questions to the doctor

Ketamine center in Fairfax, Virginia    << Ketamine infusions

Ketamine – NOVA Ketamine facebook page – ketamine treatment for depression

facebook Ketamine page

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Revisiting the Hallucinogenic Potential of Ketamine

 

LIPSKIY/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM; WITHTHESEHANDS/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

A Case Built on Current Research Findings

Ketamine has caused quite a stir in psychiatric practice. Sub-anesthetic administrations of ketamine have been shown to markedly improve symptoms of depression and anxiety.1 While the growing off-label use of ketamine speaks to the need for novel approaches to psychiatric care and treatment-resistant illness, it also presents an ethical dilemma, wherein widespread adoption has once again leaped ahead of scientific understanding.

The current literature suggests that therapeutic effects of ketamine involve modulation of glutamate neurotransmission, α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid (AMPA) receptor potentiation, downstream influences on neurotrophic signaling cascades and neuroplasticity, and functional changes in assorted neural networks. Additional work is necessary to clarify the importance and reliability of these biological findings.

Another arc to the ketamine story dates back to a decades-old era of psychedelic research and search for medications with transformative power. Indeed, although primarily conceptualized today as a dissociative anesthetic, ketamine has also been classified more broadly as a hallucinogen. Hallucinogens function by various pharmacological mechanisms of action but exhibit similarities in their ability to occasion temporary but profound alterations of consciousness, involving acute changes in somatic, perceptual, cognitive, and affective processes.

Current biological theories involving ketamine’s antidepressant effect may be inseparable from these non-ordinary experiences of consciousness, but we can only know the answers to questions we ask. Here we examine findings from contemporary research that hint at the unexplored hallucinogenic potential of ketamine and considerations for future investigation.

There has been a resurgence of interest in hallucinogenic psychedelics (eg, psilocybin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), mescaline, N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT)) and entactogens (eg, 3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine [MDMA]) in psychiatric research, which are hypothesized to achieve clinical benefit due to, in part, experiences of altered consciousness and fundamental shifts in mental frameworks.2

These drugs have been associated with cognitive states of enduring personal importance and have been compared with mystical experiences that might emerge over the ordinary course of life and carry sacred or spiritual meaning. Furthermore, these experiences may powerfully influence existential concepts of self, including moral values, self-identity, and purpose. There is converging evidence that these psychedelic effects are mediated in part by activity at 5HT-2A receptors. Ketamine may induce alterations in consciousness and personal frameworks similar to those achieved by serotonergic psychedelics while also sharing a common glutamatergic pathway of drug effect.3,4 However, there has been little investigation into how such changes might mediate the therapeutic potential of ketamine.

Preliminary data suggest that ketamine produces meaningful, transformative experiences that may help patients accept healthier values, behaviors, and beliefs related to abstinence from drugs and alcohol.5,6 Other evidence suggests that dose-related mystical-type experiences mediate the effects of ketamine on motivation to quit in cocaine-dependent research volunteers.7Few recent studies have examined whether ketamine’s hallucinogenic properties are implicated in antidepressant effects; however, psychiatric vulnerabilities to depression plausibly involve an existential dimension. This dimension includes depressive symptoms of hopelessness, guilt, and suicidality, which appear to be ketamine-sensitive.8

The evidence

Given the paucity of modern literature exploring the psychedelic and mystical properties of ketamine in depression, more widespread data on psychotomimetic and dissociative effects of ketamine provide some initial groundwork. Berman and collegeagues9 and Zarate and colleagues10 suggested that the antidepressant effects of ketamine (0.5 mg/kg over 40 min) were disconnected from ketamine-induced psychotomimetic symptoms. The antidepressant effects, measured by the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS), were significant even after positive symptoms on the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) returned to baseline. However, it was also noted that initial changes in BPRS positive symptom scales from baseline trended to predict a greater decrease in HDRS scores within a day of treatment with ketamine.

A small study further demonstrated a substantial relationship between psychotomimetic effects 30 minutes after ketamine administration (0.54mg/kg over 30 min) as measured by BPRS and antidepressant effects in the following week.11 A larger study involving 108 patients found that dissociation measured by the Clinician Administered Dissociative States Scale (CADDS) at 40 minutes was associated with HDRS score improvement at 230 minutes and 7 days after infusion.12 Although no relationship between initial BPRS positive subscale scores and antidepressant effect was found, a correlation between CADSS and BPRS scores was found at 40 minutes postinfusion.

In a small study by Valentine and colleagues,13 the proposed correlation between ketamine-induced dissociation and antidepressant efficacy was not observed. However, a larger analysis found that greater intra-infusion dissociation as measured by CADDS was one of the strongest predictors of extended antidepressant response.14 Both of these studies utilized a single 0.5 mg/kg ketamine infusion delivered over 40 minutes.

Further investigation is needed, but there is an emerging rationale for a connection between the psychotomimetic or dissociative effects of ketamine and its antidepressant efficacy. Perhaps the experience of these effects simply un-blinds patients as to whether they are receiving ketamine or placebo in randomized trials; it may also be that such symptoms are only a “side effect” of ketamine’s mechanism of action. However, it is also worth considering that the psychotomimetic or dissociative effects associated with ketamine treatment are markers or mediators of subjective experiences of potential therapeutic value seen with other hallucinogenic agents.

Recommended dosing

The recommended doses of ketamine for anesthetic induction are typically 1 to 4.5mg/kg IV and 6.5 to 13 mg/kg IM, with alternate, off-label recommendations for 0.5 to 2 mg/kg IV and 4 to 10 mg/kg IM, primarily in the context of adjuvant drug use. For use in depression, ketamine is most commonly administered at a sub-anesthetic dose of 0.5mg/kg IV across 40 minutes.

Interestingly, in a study of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and anesthetic induction with either a near-anesthetic dose of IV ketamine (0.8mg/kg) alone, sub-anesthetic ketamine (0.5mg/kg) plus propofol (0.8mg/kg), or propofol alone (0.8mg/kg), predicted a more rapid antidepressant effect and a higher remission rate than propofol use. The near-anesthetic dose of ketamine was associated with superior antidepressant effects than the mixed, sub-anesthetic dose.15

In a study of ketamine alongside psychotherapy for heroin addiction, Krupitsky and colleagues6compared the effects of 2 doses of ketamine (0.2 and 2.0 mg/kg IM) and found that only the higher dose was associated with a “full psychedelic experience” as measured by the Hallucinogen Rating Scale (HRS). The lower dose was considered a “sub-psychedelic” active placebo, but was nonetheless associated with some positive drug effects: patients were still affected by their experiences and considered them useful and therapeutic. The high dose group ultimately experienced higher rates of abstinence, greater effect on emotional attitudes related to abstinence, and lower rates of relapse and drug craving than the low dose group. Both doses resulted in post-treatment reductions in measures of depression and anxiety; there were no significant differences between the groups.

Similarly, Dakwar and colleagues7 compared the effects of 0.41 mg/kg and 0.71 mg/kg doses of IV ketamine given to cocaine-dependent patients. Dose-dependent mystical-type effects as measured by Hood’s Mysticism Scale (HMS) were seen as well as a relationship between HMS scores and the motivation to quit cocaine 24 hours post-infusion.

A different study involving a lower dose of intramuscular (IM) ketamine did not generate the same mystical-type phenomena.16 Perhaps these results highlight the importance of calibrating dosing and delivery. Clements and colleagues17 demonstrated that ketamine had reduced bioavailability with IM administration compared with IV administration. Taken together, these findings support the idea that positive treatment outcomes for ketamine may be dose-dependent and its psychoactive effects are based on delivery parameters.

Limitation

One criticism of ketamine has been its short duration of antidepressant effect, with benefits peaking at 24 hours post-infusion and generally subsiding by 72 hours. The most promising approach to this challenge thus far seems to be the strategy of repeated-dose ketamine infusions, which have observed extended time-to-relapse and increased rates of antidepressant response.18

If ketamine’s therapeutic effect is indeed mediated by psychoactive experience, it may be that repeated dosing of ketamine improves outcomes by increasing opportunities for personally meaningful events to occur. One caveat is that some studies have shown repeated dosing to be associated with fewer dissociative symptoms over time—at first glance this suggests that the antidepressant value of serial ketamine administration might be independent of hallucinogenic effects.

While this requires further investigation, it is also important to consider other interpretations of that evidence: that acclimation to altered states of consciousness may contribute to recall bias, that experimental protocols that frame dissociative symptoms as a “side effect” or “adverse event” may lead to underreporting if overall patient experiences of ketamine are positive, or even that the benefit of repeated dosing may be less related to cumulative drug effect than other factors, such as repeated interactions with care providers or increased opportunities for reflection and synthesis.

One study of repeated infusions demonstrated that antidepressant response very early in the course of treatment strongly predicted subsequent response; conversely, a lack of rapid response was a poor prognostic indicator for improvement after additional infusions. Whether positive early responses to ketamine are mediated by psychological factors, biological susceptibility, or both: it is necessary to clarify these factors in shaping sustainable strategies for treatment.

A cautious approach also seems imperative given evidence that ketamine demonstrates agonist activity at μ-opioid receptors and dopaminergic effects that may confer acute relief of depressive symptoms but also greater risk for positive drug reinforcement and dependence. With further insight into psychological responses mediated by ketamine, it may be that a therapy-based framework for ketamine administration optimizes treatment efficacy and sustainability, while also minimizing unnecessary drug exposure, adverse effects of chronic use, and dependency risk.

Further study needed

In one study, long-term abstinence in persons who were substance dependent was achieved with Ketamine Psychedelic Therapy (KPT), which incorporates 1 or 2 sessions of ketamine-facilitated existential reappraisal into an existential psychotherapy.6 Additional exploration would be needed to determine which therapeutic approaches most beneficially augment ketamine treatment and minimize risks for harm. Nevertheless, a more holistic approach to ketamine as a treatment modality may be better suited to recreate the marked, persistent effects of MDMA in patients with PTSD. For example, in one study sustained symptom reductions were achieved with 12 weeks of psychotherapy but with limited MDMA exposures of only three 8-hour sessions.19

Another area that requires further investigation is how a patient’s past history might shape psychoactive responses. These personal and quite variable histories have been explored for some hallucinogenic agents but minimally for ketamine. The expectations and personal experiences of the individual user along with the external environment of use have been identified as critical factors in influencing subjective drug effects—coined “set” and “setting,” respectively—and are now considered well-established elements of human hallucinogen research.20

Therapies aimed at the pharmacological production of a transformative experience may depend on factors such as patient personality structure, preparation for treatment, emotional activation before drug intake, treatment context, and perceived quality of the experience. Given the unique psychological risks of hallucinogen administration, it is recommended that clinicians screen for personal or family histories of psychotic or other severe psychiatric disorders prior to treatment. Clinicians are also encouraged to facilitate careful patient preparation for sessions, provide a safe physical environment for treatment administration, and allow for interpersonal support during sessions. These and other insights from hallucinogenic research might valuably inform treatment protocols for ketamine administration.

Ketamine is uniquely poised to make a tremendous impact on psychiatric care, even redefining boundaries for patients with variations in depressive disorders that were once thought to be “treatment resistant.” Our synthesis of this emerging and old literature points to the unexplored hallucinogenic potential of ketamine. By further understanding the desirable psychoactive effects of ketamine, clinicians can build on initial treatment successes and maximize patient successes.

Future directions for research include:

• Further investigating the relationship between ketamine-induced psychotomimetic and dissociative effects and treatment efficacy

• Clarifying the connection between these effects and potentially desirable hallucinogenic experiences

• Exploring the therapeutic value of such elicited experiences

• Revisiting dosing strategies that account for existential phenomena and looking beyond dissociation as simply being an “adverse event”

• Incorporating psychotherapy-based frameworks into ongoing investigation

• Assessing set and setting factors that may shape treatment responses

Some answers and clues are likely to be found in the forgotten works of older psychedelic research. Agents like ketamine can exert their greatest therapeutic effect in the afterglow of profound alterations of consciousness, revealing a propensity for growth and healing that has not been evident to the suffering, depressed patient. Wherever the journey takes us, it is exactly the right time to bring together all the strands—brain and mind, old and new, caution and thrill—in assembling the unfinished story of ketamine.

 

References:

1. Feifel D. Breaking sad: unleashing the breakthrough potential of ketamine’s rapid antidepressant effects. Drug Dev Res. 2016;77;489-494.

2. Griffiths RR, Richards WA, McCann U, Jesse R. Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance. Psychopharmacol (Berl). 2006;187:268-283, 292.

3. Perry EB, Cramer JA, Cho HS, et al. Psychiatric safety of ketamine in psychopharmacology research. Psychopharmacol (Berl). 2007;192:253-260.

4. Vollenweider FX, Kometer M. The neurobiology of psychedelic drugs: implications for the treatment of mood disorders. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2010;11:642-651.

5. Jansen KLR. Ketamine: Dreams and Realities. Sarasota, FL: Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies; 2001.

6. Krupitsky E, Burakov A, Romanova T, et al. Ketamine psychotherapy for heroin addiction: immediate effects and two-year follow-up. J Subst Abuse Treat. 2002;23:273-283.

7. Dakwar E, Levin F, Foltin RW, et al. The effects of sub-anesthetic ketamine infusions on motivation to quit and cue-induced craving in cocaine dependent research volunteers. Biol Psychiatry. 2014;76:40-46.

8. Mathew SJ, Shah A, Lapidus K, et al. Ketamine for treatment-resistant unipolar depression: current evidence. CNS Drugs. 2012;26:189-204.

9. Berman RM, Cappiello A, Anand A, et al. Antidepressant effects of ketamine in depressed patients. Biol Psychiatry. 2000;47:351-354.

10. Zarate CA, Singh JB, Carlson PJ, et al. A randomized trial of an N-methyl-D-aspartate antagonist in treatment-resistant major depression. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2006;63:856-864.

11. Sos P, Kirova M, Novak T, et al. Relationship of ketamine’s antidepressant and psychotomimetic effects in unipolar depression. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2013;34:287-293.

12. Luckenbaugh DA, Niciu MJ, Ionescu DF, et al. Do the dissociative side effects of ketamine mediate its antidepressant effects? J Affect Disord. 2014;159:56-61.

13. Valentine GW, Mason GF, Gomez R, et al. The antidepressant effect of ketamine is not associated with changes in occipital amino acid neurotransmitter content as measured by [(1)H]-MRS. Psychiatry Res. 2011;191:122-127.

14. Pennybaker SJ, Niciu MJ, Luckenbaugh DA, Zarate CA. Symptomatology and predictors of antidepressant efficacy in extended responders to a single ketamine infusion. J Affect Disord. 2017;208:560-566.

15. Zhong X, He H, Zhang C, et al. Mood and neuropsychological effects of different doses of ketamine in electroconvulsive therapy for treatment-resistant depression. J Affect Disord. 2016;201:124-130.

16. Lofwall MR, Griffiths RR, Mintzer MZ. Cognitive and subjective acute dose effects of intramuscular ketamine in healthy adults. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2006;14:439-449.

17. Clements JA, Nimmo WS, Grant IS. Bioavailability, pharmacokinetics, and analgesic activity of ketamine in humans. J Pharma Sci. 1982;71:539-542.

18. Murrough JW, Perez AM, Pillemer S, et al. Rapid and longer-term antidepressant effects of repeated ketamine infusions in treatment-resistant major depression. Biol Psychiatry. 2013;74:250-256.

19. Mithoefer, M. C. et al. Durability of improvement in post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and absence of harmful effects or drug dependency after 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine-assisted psychotherapy: a prospective long-term follow-up study. J Psychopharmacol. 2013;27:28-39.

20. Leary T, Litwin GH, Metzner R. Reactions to psilocybin administered in a supportive environment. J Nerv Ment Dis. 1963;137:561-573.

Ketamine for Depresion | Obsessive-compulsive disorder| Fairfax, Va | 703-844-0184 | Ketamine doctors | IV ketamine | Ketamine treatment center | 22306

NOVA Health Recovery  <<< Ketamine Treatment Center Fairfax, Virginia

CAll 703-844-0184 for an immediate appointment to evaluate you for a Ketamine infusion:

Ketaminealexandria.com    703-844-0184 Call for an infusion to treat your depression. PTSD, Anxiety, CRPS, or other pain disorder today.

email@novahealthrecovery.com  << Email for questions to the doctor

Ketamine center in Fairfax, Virginia    << Ketamine infusions

Ketamine – NOVA Ketamine facebook page – ketamine treatment for depression

facebook Ketamine page

NOVA Health Recovery  << Ketamine clinic Fairfax, Va  – Call 703-844-0184 for an appointment – Fairfax, Virginia

Ketamine Consultants Blog

Ketamine Virginia = Ketamine IV Drip Doctors

The IV Medical Center - IV Vitamin Drips for wellness and recovery

Ketamine

The drug Ketamine is considered a breakthrough treatment for depression and some other neuropsychiatric conditions. Below are excerpts from recent articles discussing this revolutionary treatment and the links to the full articles.

Ketamine For Depression: the Highs and Lows.

The Lancet Psychiatry. VOLUME 2, ISSUE 9, P783–784, SEPTEMBER 2015

Long used as an anaesthetic and analgesic, most people familiar with ketamine know of it for this purpose. Others know it as a party drug that can give users an out-of-body experience, leaving them completely disconnected from reality. Less well known is its growing off-label use in the USA for depression, in many cases when other options have been exhausted.

David Feifel, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, was one of the first clinicians to use ketamine off-label to treat depression at UCDS’s Center for Advanced Treatment of Mood and Anxiety Disorders, which he recently founded. “Currently approved medications for depression all have about the same, very limited efficacy. A large percentage of patients with depression do not get an adequate level of relief from these antidepressants even when they have tried several different ones and even when other drugs known to augment their effects are added to them”, Feifel tells The Lancet Psychiatry. “The stagnation in current antidepressant medication on the one hand, and the tremendous number of treatment-resistant patients, has propelled me to explore truly novel treatments like ketamine.”

Compelling published study results and case reports exist of patients’ depression—in some cases deeply entrenched depression that has lasted months or even years—alleviating within hours of use of ketamine. However, critics have warned that the drug has not been studied sufficiently (at least outside clinical trials), and also emphasized the cost. Patients can pay more than $1000 per session for treatment that must usually be repeated several times. That cost is rarely covered by the patient’s medical insurance.

Advocates of ketamine use in depression are excited because it has a different mechanism of action to standard antidepressants, which affect signalling by monoamine neurotransmitters such as serotonin, noradrenaline, or dopamine. Ketamine is thought to act by blocking N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in the brain, which interact with the amino acid neurotransmitter glutamate.

Feifel states that he has patients who have been receiving ketamine treatments every 2–4 weeks for long periods, some for around 3 years, and has not yet seen any safety issues arise.

Pharmaceutical companies are entering this exciting arena by attempting to develop new drugs based on ketamine without similar side-effects. Feifel dismisses the notion that the dissociative so-called trip induced by ketamine is actually an important negative side-effect. “Although I have had a couple patients have unpleasant ‘trips’, it’s exceedingly rare, usually dose related, and very transitory due to ketamine’s rapid metabolism.” Feifel says that, more often than not, patients find the trip to be positive, or even spiritual, and believe it is an important component of the antidepressant effect they experience afterwards. “There is no doubt the dissociative effect represents a logistical issue, requiring monitoring—and this should be addressed in any approval given for ketamine”, he adds.

Feifel says that it is not for him, but for his patients to decide where the balance of risks and benefits lies in trying ketamine to treat their depression”One could make a compelling argument that it’s unethical to withhold ketamine treatments from someone who has chronic, severe treatment resistant depression. But I know this from the patients who tell me they would not be in this world right now if it were not for the ketamine.”

Feifel concludes that it is straightforward to talk to TRD patients about ketamine. “I tell them all the relevant information. The efficacy rates, time to onset of benefits, duration limitations, alternatives, lack of insurance coverage, and other information. My job is to make sure they understand the parameters of the treatment, not to decide whether they should do it.”

Full article: The Lancet

Ketamine for depression the highs and lows b

Onetime Party Drug Hailed as Miracle for Treating Severe Depression

Washington Post, Feb 2, 2016

Ketamine, popularly known as the psychedelic club drug Special K, has been around since the early 1960s. It is a staple anesthetic in emergency rooms, regularly used for children when they come in with broken bones and dislocated shoulders. It’s an important tool in burn centers and veterinary medicine, as well as a notorious date-rape drug, known for its power to quickly numb and render someone immobile. Since 2006, dozens of studies have reported that it can also reverse the kind of severe depression that traditional antidepressants often don’t touch.

Experts are calling it the most significant advance in mental health in more than half a century. They point to studies showing ketamine not only produces a rapid and robust antidepressant effect; it also puts a quick end to suicidal thinking.  “This is the next big thing in psychiatry,” says L. Alison McInnes, a San Francisco psychiatrist who over the past year has enrolled 58 severely depressed patients in Kaiser’s San Francisco clinic. The excitement stems from the fact that it’s working for patients who have spent years cycling through antidepressants, mood stabilizers and various therapies. “Psychiatry has run out of gas” in trying to help depressed patients for whom nothing has worked, she says. “There is a significant number of people who don’t respond to antidepressants, and we’ve had nothing to offer them other than cognitive behavior therapy, electroshock therapy and transcranial stimulation.”

Ketamine does, however, have one major limitation: Its relief is temporary. Clinical trials at NIMH have found that relapse usually occurs about a week after a single infusion.

A study published in the journal Science in 2010 suggested that ketamine restores brain function through a process called synaptogenesis. Scientists at Yale University found that ketamine not only improved depression-like behavior in rats but also promoted the growth of new synaptic connections between neurons in the brain.

Patients often describe a kind of lucid dreaming or dissociative state in which they lose track of time and feel separated from their bodies. Many enjoy it; some don’t. But studies at NIMH and elsewhere suggest that the psychedelic experience may play a small but significant role in the drug’s efficacy.

As a drug once known almost exclusively to anesthesiologists, ketamine now falls into a gray zone. As the use of ketamine looks likely to grow, many psychiatrists say that use of ketamine for depression should be left to them. “The bottom line is you’re treating depression,” says psychiatrist David Feifel, director of the Center for Advanced Treatment of Mood and Anxiety Disorders at the University of California at San Diego. “And this isn’t garden-variety depression. The people coming in for ketamine are people who have the toughest, potentially most dangerous depressions. I think it’s a disaster if anesthesiologists feel competent to monitor these patients.”

Full article: The Washington Post

Onetime party drug hailed as miracle for treating severe depression


A Ketamine intravenous drip being prepared. (Amarett Jans/Courtesy of Enrique Abreu)

February 1, 2016

It was November 2012 when Dennis Hartman, a Seattle business executive, managed to pull himself out of bed, force himself to shower for the first time in days and board a plane that would carry him across the country to a clinical trial at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda.

After a lifetime of profound depression, 25 years of therapy and cycling through 18 antidepressants and mood stabilizers, Hartman, then 46, had settled on a date and a plan to end it all. The clinical trial would be his last attempt at salvation.

For 40 minutes, he sat in a hospital room as an IV drip delivered ketamine through his system. Several more hours passed before it occurred to him that all his thoughts of suicide had evaporated.

“My life will always be divided into the time before that first infusion and the time after,” Hartman says today. “That sense of suffering and pain draining away. I was bewildered by the absence of pain.”

Ketamine could be speedy depression treatment

Ketamine is being used by researchers at The National Institutes of Health as a treatment for major depression. 

Ketamine, popularly known as the psychedelic club drug Special K, has been around since the early 1960s. It is a staple anesthetic in emergency rooms, regularly used for children when they come in with broken bones and dislocated shoulders. It’s an important tool in burn centers and veterinary medicine, as well as a notorious date-rape drug, known for its power to quickly numb and render someone immobile.

Since 2006, dozens of studies have reported that it can also reverse the kind of severe depression that traditional antidepressants often don’t touch. The momentum behind the drug has now reached the American Psychiatric Association, which, according to members of a ketamine task force, seems headed toward a tacit endorsement of the drug for treatment-resistant depression.

Experts are calling it the most significant advance in mental health in more than half a century. They point to studies showing ketamine not only produces a rapid and robust antidepressant effect; it also puts a quick end to suicidal thinking.

Traditional antidepressants and mood stabilizers, by comparison, can take weeks or months to work. In 2010, a major study published in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association, reported that drugs in a leading class of antidepressants were no better than placebos for most depression.

A growing number of academic medical centers, including Yale University, the University of California at San Diego, the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic, have begun offering ketamine treatments off-label for severe depression, as has Kaiser Permanente in Northern California.

The ‘next big thing’

“This is the next big thing in psychiatry,” says L. Alison McInnes, a San Francisco psychiatrist who over the past year has enrolled 58 severely depressed patients in Kaiser’s San Francisco clinic. She says her long-term success rate of 60 percent for people with treatment-resistant depression who try the drug has persuaded Kaiser to expand treatment to two other clinics in the Bay Area. The excitement stems from the fact that it’s working for patients who have spent years cycling through antidepressants, mood stabilizers and various therapies.

“Psychiatry has run out of gas” in trying to help depressed patients for whom nothing has worked, she says. “There is a significant number of people who don’t respond to antidepressants, and we’ve had nothing to offer them other than cognitive behavior therapy, electroshock therapy and transcranial stimulation.”

McInnes is a member of the APA’s ketamine task force, assigned to codify the protocol for how and when the drug will be given. She says she expects the APA to support the use of ketamine treatment early this year.

The guidelines, which follow the protocol used in the NIMH clinical trial involving Hartman, call for six IV drips over a two-week period. The dosage is very low, about a tenth of the amount used in anesthesia. And when it works, it does so within minutes or hours.

“It’s not subtle,” says Enrique Abreu, a Portland, Ore., anesthesiologist who began treating depressed patients with it in 2012. “It’s really obvious if it’s going to be effective.

“And the response rate is unbelievable. This drug is 75 percent effective, which means that three-quarters of my patients do well. Nothing in medicine has those kind of numbers.”

So far, there is no evidence of addiction at the low dose in which infusions are delivered. Ketamine does, however, have one major limitation: Its relief is temporary. Clinical trials at NIMH have found that relapse usually occurs about a week after a single infusion.

Ketamine works differently from traditional antidepressants, which target the brain’s serotonin and noradrenalin systems. It blocks N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), a receptor in the brain that is activated by glutamate, a neurotransmitter.

In excessive quantities, glutamate becomes an excitotoxin, meaning that it overstimulates brain cells.

“Ketamine almost certainly modifies the function of synapses and circuits, turning certain circuits on and off,” explains Carlos Zarate Jr., NIMH’s chief of neurobiology and treatment of mood disorders, who has led the research on ketamine. “The result is a rapid antidepressant effect.”

Rapid effect

study published in the journal Science in 2010 suggested that ketamine restores brain function through a process called synaptogenesis. Scientists at Yale University found that ketamine not only improved depression-like behavior in rats but also promoted the growth of new synaptic connections between neurons in the brain.

mTOR-dependent synapse formation underlies the rapid antidepressant effects of NMDA antagonists.

Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy A Paradigm Shift in Psychiatric Research and Development

Psychedelics Promote Structural and Functional Neural Plasticity.

Even a low-dose infusion can cause intense hallucinations. Patients often describe a kind of lucid dreaming or dissociative state in which they lose track of time and feel separated from their bodies. Many enjoy it; some don’t. But studies at NIMH and elsewhere suggest that the psychedelic experience may play a small but significant role in the drug’s efficacy.

“It’s one of the things that’s really striking,” says Steven Levine, a Princeton, N.J., psychiatrist who estimates that he has treated 500 patients with ketamine since 2011. “With depression, people often feel very isolated and disconnected. Ketamine seems to leave something indelible behind. People use remarkably similar language to describe their experience: ‘a sense of connection to other people,’ ‘a greater sense of connection to the universe.’ ”

Although bladder problems and cognitive deficits have been reported among long-term ketamine abusers, none of these effects have been observed in low-dose clinical trials. In addition to depression, the drug is being studied for its effectiveness in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, extreme anxiety and Rett syndrome, a rare developmental disorder on the autism spectrum.

Booster treatments

The drug’s fleeting remission effect has led many patients to seek booster infusions. Hartman, for one, began his search before he even left his hospital room in Bethesda.

Four years ago, he couldn’t find a doctor in the Pacific Northwest willing to administer ketamine. “At the time, psychiatrists hovered between willful ignorance and outright opposition to it,” says Hartman, whose depression began creeping back a few weeks after his return to Seattle.

It took nine months before he found an anesthesiologist in New York who was treating patients with ketamine. Soon, he was flying back and forth across the country for bimonthly infusions.

Upon his request, he received the same dosage and routine he’d received in Bethesda: six infusions over two weeks. And with each return to New York, his relief seemed to last a little longer. These days, he says that his periods of remission between infusions often stretch to six months. He says he no longer takes any medication for depression besides ketamine.

“I don’t consider myself permanently cured, but now it’s something I can manage,” Hartman says, “like diabetes or arthritis. Before, it was completely unmanageable. It dominated my life and prevented me from functioning.”

In 2012 he helped found the Ketamine Advocacy Network, a group that vets ketamine clinics, advocates for insurance coverage and spreads the word about the drug.

And word has indeed spread. Ketamine clinics, typically operated by psychiatrists or anesthesiologists, are popping up in major cities around the country.

Levine, for one, is about to expand from New Jersey to Denver and Baltimore. Portland’s Abreu recently opened a second clinic in Seattle.

Depression is big business. An estimated 15.7 million adults in the United States experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2014, according to the NIMH.

“There’s a great unmet need in depression,” says Gerard Sanacora, director of the Yale Depression Research Program. “We think this is an extremely important treatment. The concern comes if people start using ketamine before CBT [cognitive behavioral therapy] or Prozac. Maybe someday it will be a first-line treatment. But we’re not there yet.”

Many unknowns

Sanacora says a lot more research is required. “It’s a medication that can have big changes in heart rate and blood pressure. There are so many unknowns, I’m not sure it should be used more widely till we understand its long-term benefits and risks.”

While a single dose of ketamine is cheaper than a $2 bottle of water, the cost to the consumer varies wildly, running anywhere between $500 and $1,500 per treatment. The drug itself is easily available in any pharmacy, and doctors are free to prescribe it — as with any medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration — for off-label use. Practitioners attribute the expense to medical monitoring of patients and IV equipment required during an infusion.

There is no registry for tracking the number of patients being treated with ketamine for depression, the frequency of those treatments, dosage levels, follow-up care and adverse effects.

“We clearly need more standardization in its use,” Zarate says. “We still don’t know what the proper dose should be. We need to do more studies. It still, in my opinion, should be used predominantly in a research setting or highly specialized clinic.”

As a drug once known almost exclusively to anesthesiologists, ketamine now falls into a gray zone.

“Most anesthesiologists don’t do mental health, and there’s no way a psychiatrist feels comfortable putting an IV in someone’s arm,” Abreu says.

It’s a drug, in other words, that practically demands collaboration. Instead, it has set off a turf war. As the use of ketamine looks likely to grow, many psychiatrists say that use of ketamine for depression should be left to them.

“The bottom line is you’re treating depression,” says psychiatrist David Feifel, director of the Center for Advanced Treatment of Mood and Anxiety Disorders at the University of California at San Diego. “And this isn’t garden-variety depression. The people coming in for ketamine are people who have the toughest, potentially most dangerous depressions. I think it’s a disaster if anesthesiologists feel competent to monitor these patients. Many of them have bipolar disorder and are in danger of becoming manic. My question [to anesthesiologists] is: ‘Do you feel comfortable that you can pick up mania?’ ”

But ketamine has flourished from the ground up and with little or no advertising. The demand has come primarily from patients and their families; Zarate, for instance, says he receives “at least 100 emails a day” from patients.

Nearly every one of them wants to know where they can get it.

 

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Ketamine for Refractory Neuropathic Pain

NOVA Ketamine | Ketamine infusions for depression and anxiety | Fairfax, Va 22306

Although the mechanisms underlying the development and maintenance of neuropathic pain are still poorly understood, both µ-opioid and NMDA receptors have been implicated.Although the mechanisms underlying the development and maintenance of neuropathic pain are still poorly understood, both µ-opioid and NMDA receptors have been implicated.

A randomized controlled trial investigating treatments for chronic neuropathic pain revealed that a ketamine regimen is superior to methadone, or ketamine combined with methadone, in alleviating neuropathic pain and associated sensory changes.1

Neuropathic pain is known to arise from a number of conditions and treatments, including chemotherapy, metabolic diseases, and trauma, and is often associated with allodynia and burning or shooting pain. Although the mechanisms underlying the development and maintenance of neuropathic pain are still poorly understood, both µ-opioid and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors have been implicated.2

The µ-opioid receptor agonist methadone and the NMDA receptor antagonist ketamine thus may represent therapeutic targets to treat neuropathic. The adverse effects associated with these drugs (eg, hallucination, delirium for ketamine, somnolence, vomiting for methadone), however, preclude their use as first-line treatment.3,4

 

As a way to minimize drug-related adverse events, multimodal analgesia can be used. In a previous study, the authors of the current analysis showed that a combination of oral methadone and ketamine was effective in alleviating refractory neuropathic pain with minimal adverse effects.5The previous study was conducted in 18 patients; the current researchers conducted a double-blind randomized clinical trial in which 42 patients aged 22 to 77 years who had refractory neuropathic pain for >6 months, as indicated by poor response to common treatments (ie, opioids, antidepressants, anticonvulsants), were enrolled.

diagnostic algorithm was used, in which the following criteria had to be met for a positive diagnostic: independent assessment of somatosensory dysfunction by an experienced pain clinician, affected proprioception, unaffected motor or autonomic functions, and confirmation of diagnosis for patients meeting the aforementioned conditions.

The patients were randomly assigned to 3 treatment groups with 14 patients in each, all administered orally 3 times per day: methadone (3 mg), ketamine (30 mg), or a methadone (3 mg)/ketamine (30 mg) combination. Supplemental analgesics were allowed during treatment.

Baseline characteristics, including patient demographics, diagnosis, pain score, and use of analgesics were similar across the 3 treatment groups, which were found to be equally effective in reducing pain (the trial’s primary outcome), as indicated by visual analog scale scores, at 7 (40% reduction), 15 (60% reduction), and 30 days (70% reduction). In addition, the 3 treatments showed similar efficacy in reducing the occurrence of burning and shooting pain (methadone, P =.01 for both; ketamine, P =.03 and P =.01, respectively; methadone/ketamine, P =.02 and P =.04, respectively). However, the ketamine-only treatment was the only effective one in reducing the incidence of allodynia (P =.02).

Adverse effects (ie, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, hallucinations, constipation, and migraine) had similar incidence across treatments, with the exception of somnolence, which occurred more often in the methadone cohort (92%) than in the ketamine (19%) or methadone/ketamine (46%) treatment groups (P =.001).

The researchers concluded that “Collectively, these findings showed that methadone/ketamine was not better than methadone or ketamine for improving refractory neuropathic pain. However, ketamine was more effective in reducing allodynia compared with methadone or methadone/ketamine.” In addition, they noted that further studies should be conducted to investigate the mechanisms underlying the absence of synergy between ketamine and methadone.

 

References

  1. Rigo FK, Trevisan G, Godoy MC, et al. Management of neuropathic chronic pain with methadone combined with ketamine: a randomized, double blind, active-controlled clinical trialPain Physician. 2017;20(3):207-215.
  2. Ingram SL. Association of mu-opioid and NMDA receptors in the periaqueductal gray: what does it mean for pain control? Neuropsychopharmacology. 2012;37(2):315-316. doi: 10.1038/npp.2011.241
  3. Noppers I, Niesters M, Aarts L, Smith T, Sarton E, Dahan A. Ketamine for the treatment of chronic non-cancer painExpert Opin Pharmacother. 2010;11(14):2417-2429. doi: 10.1517/14656566.2010.515978
  4. Gagnon B, Almahrezi A, Schreier G. Methadone in the treatment of neuropathic painPain Res Manag. 2003;8(3):149-154.
  5. De godoy MC, Dalmolin GD, Rigo FK, et al. Management of chronic neuropathic pain of different causes with the combination of oral methadone along with ketamine: A report of 18 casesEur J Anaesthesiol. 2013;30(10):638-640. doi: 10.1097/EJA.0b013e32835f9a3b